Policies Central to Running a Criminal Justice Agency
A criminal justice agency, specifically the police department relies very heavily on its organization to fulfill its duties to society, which is to protect from crime and to serve justice. This type of organization also requires the police chief to discern when he or she is to take hold of a matter, and take authority or hand it over to the right person (Kenney & McNamara, 1999). This is why a certain type of organization within the members of the department is needed; it includes 26 individuals which make up a police department. This type of organization is seen as hierarchal and shows a chain of command, with the Police Chief at the top (Langworthy, 1986).
Also important in the organization of a department is the geographical location where a particular group of officers are responsible for. The beats or posts is the smallest measure of unit and requires only one patrol unit. According to Vollard (2006) the smaller the area, the easier it is to maintain discipline and order. Beats and posts are important for the effectiveness of the overall police department so that all areas of certain cities are well covered. A number of beats which are grouped together is referred to as a sector or a zone, this ensures that all areas are well looked after by the police and no spot is left empty or uncared for. Organization by area ensures that all geographic locations in a particular department are well covered at all times, this also makes it easier to determine which patrol unit would get to an area in the shortest amount of time possible. In a larger police department, there would be more available personnel; this allows the department to divide its members into certain categories and subcategories of different units. The investigation divisions in departments can also be divided similar to this. It is said that there is a certain degree of care to be taken in regarding the specialization which is introduced to a police department, and it is suggested that for an organization to increase in effectiveness, the departments must look into this specialization (Kenney & McNamara, 1999).
There is a principle of accountability which is needed within a department, this makes all members of the department, especially the police chief held responsible for any action made. This also involves no types of favoritism within the department, and all individuals must be treated fairly and equally; no matter what rank or position he or she may hold. It is within policy that action must be taken whenever authority is not properly used within the department, also in cases where an individual is found to be doing his or her job improperly, or not doing the job at all. If the police chief does not immediately impose this type of accountability and responsibility, the effectiveness of the police department as an organization will fail; this will cause the department to function in an un-orderly and poor manner (Langworthy, 1986).
Rules and regulations are crucial in the police department; these are what define the members' roles in the agency (Kenney & McNamara, 1999). The police chief needs to understand the importance of delegating roles to the members for the efficiency of the police department. The right person needs to be assigned with the right authority that has the needed skills and knowledge ready to complete or fulfill the task given to him or her (Langworthy, 1986). The failure in doing this is seen common in police departments, and it is when the police chief does not properly understand the delegation process or its mechanics. Or, the police chief simply does not want to give authority because there is a lack of trust among the members, and he fears that this authority may be abused.
The police chief is also responsible for properly delegating authority and the power to make decisions to people in all levels in within the police department (Kenney & McNamara, 1999). This follows a chain of command within the department, where the chief has to consider three levels for the management of tasks and decisions. These levels are as follows: (1) Chief administrative level, (2) Command Level, and (3) Supervisory level. The highest of authority according to the police department's hierarchy is the police chief; he or she has the ultimate power in making decisions and performing tasks (Langworthy, 1986). However, he or she needs to assign certain tasks to his or her subordinates as to ensure the efficiency within the department. The second level is composed of those officers who are ranked lieutenant or higher, and their responsibilities are that of line or staff functions. The third level is those who have supervisory duties and are ranked lower than a lieutenant. Organizing the police department by purpose or their function is very important in the effectiveness of policing because it makes sure that everything within the department is covered by a certain personnel. All members within a department have different functions or duties they are in charge of (Langworthy, 1986).
There should be a concept of authority, role and accountability present within the department, and this example should be set by the police chief (Vila & Morris, 1999). Just as the police chief has power and authority over everyone in the department, officers of higher rank have authority over their subordinates. The levels of hierarchy must be established for the organization of the department to take full effect. Also, there should be no abuse in power within the department to destroy any bonds or unity which is supposedly formed within the organization. If there is such an abuse of power found within the department, it is the police chief's duty to remove that authority given to the individual who has abused it (Vila & Morris, 1999). It must be made clear with the police chief and all the members in the department that the delegation of authority is never permanent, and can be taken away any time.
A certain level of unity in command is very important in the organization of a department (Langworthy, 1986). When one member is to take conflicting orders from two authorities, there will be confusion. This can be seen when a certain patrol officer takes three commands, but only follows one, the other duties are left untended to. This would lead to much frustration on the part of the officer given orders (Kenney & McNamara, 1999). The principles of the unity in command are there to make sure that there are no confusions which may lead to mistakes. The members of the department have to make sure that they are comfortable with their roles, and there are no gaps in regards to relationships in authority.
It is very important for the police department and all its members to keep a level of integrity as a whole; this goes specifically for the goals of specialist's subunit (Kenney & McNamara, 1999). The members of the police department must focus on the department's overall goal to decrease crime, and not fall into any pits or give in to temptation such as bribery or blackmail in order to fulfill much narrower goals which may cancel out the department's over-all goal. The specialization of functions can also face other problems such as when a certain officer is assigned a certain task, all other members may feel that they have no responsibility over that function or task in any way. This makes the police department dispersed, and no team effort is seen (Kenney & McNamara, 1999). Guidelines on discipline within members of the department must be set. This is for the purpose of controlling all personnel within the organization when it comes to their tasks and duties. This involves inspections and routine supervisions to make sure that no organization violates any rules. These disciplines are written in a form of procedures which the police chief must impose on the department, to let them know what consequences may be for misconduct or any violation of rules.
There is a standard for conducting work throughout the police department which is set by higher authority from outside the organization; this is set by the Commission on Accreditation (Kenney & McNamara, 1999). These set of standards are to ensure that every police department is being managed properly, and that they are fulfilling their goals and objectives to the best of their abilities, and for there to be no abuse in power or lack of integrity within the system. These standards include that all police agencies must acknowledge and respect the existence of the board as well as all its members ("National Advisory Commission," 1973). There should be a level of police discretions seen in all members of the department. This also states that every police department must establish policies and guidelines on how to perform and execute certain tasks. The police chief should also limit any type of discretion in police officers when…